For those looking for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I to blow them out of the water emotionally, be prepared to wait.
Wait for Mockingjay Part II, that is.
Mockingjay, which opens Friday (Nov. 21), possesses the feel of another set up film as Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) deals with the fact that she expected to be the face of the revolution in Panem. Given her distaste and disdain for Pres. Snow (Donald Sutherland), some might expect that to be a no-brainer.
That’s not so. After awakening from her rescue at the end of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Katniss learns that she’s been drafted because of her willingness to risk her life for others.
The leader of District 13, which appears to hold many of the dissident survivors of whatever military preceded the formation of Panem, Pres. Coin (Julianne Moore) also serves as the de facto leader of said revolution.
In Katniss, they seek the Mockingjay, someone to inspire and serve as a propaganda mouthpiece to enlist Panem’s other disparate districts to join the fight. She’s ambivalent about her role, only seeking to shield her mother, sister and get the return of the Hunger Game victors captured in the last film. That includes Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson).
Katniss and Peeta, because of their status as cultural icons, both serve a purpose. The same one. After she agrees to speak for the revolution, Peeta is being used by the president to try to blunt a revolution that is only just beginning
Mockingjay, directed by Francis Lawrence, contains a number of good emotional moments, but never really takes off.
The suspicion is that the payoff is being saved for Mockingjay Part II. Initially a book trilogy, the movie version has been stretched over four films and this installment plays exactly like that even as it acts as allegorical warning for the current political landscape.
The cast, which includes Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright and Woody Harrelson, saves the film from sinking into complete blandness. Here’s hoping that the ultimate payoff comes when the fourth movie is released next year.
Movie: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Julianne Moore, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright and Woody Harrelson
Rated: PG-13 for for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images and thematic material.
Running time: 123 minutes
George’s rating: 3-of-5 stars
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com